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The kid dove for cover inside a corner of the remaining shell of the bombed out building. Bullets whizzed past him, bombs falling one after another from the smoke-filled sky. The twenty-year-old man-boy trembled with fear. A grenade rolled into the room and his buddy jumped on it before it exploded, dying to save his fellow soldiers. Then calm descended amid the stench of burning flesh, and the acrid smell of explosives. The thunderous sounds were replaced with cries for help, moans of pain, and ear-piercing screams.
A woman hobbled into the building, flailing her arms, wailing, grasping the kid by the arm, and begging in rapid German, but repeating, “Come! Come!” Sweeping together his pack he followed her into a nearby smouldering building and she pointed to a body in a puddle of blood, knees drawn, rolling side to side, and sobbing. The kid rolled the form to face him, gasped, and terror paralysed his thinking. Shrapnel pierced her womb and he understood her baby was coming.
He was an army medic, trained to treat the wounded of the war, but he knew nothing about delivering a baby. Recovering from his surprise he communicated using sign language, broken English and broken German with the other woman asking her to find the local nuns to assist him. His medical trained mind returned and he proceeded with saving both the mother and her unborn child. The nuns arrived and attended to delivering the baby. The kid focused on removing the shrapnel, stopping the bleeding, preventing infection and saving the mother’s life. Both mother and child survived.
This is one story of many of my daddy’s life serving in the United States Army, marching across Europe during World War II. He saved the lives of both Allies and enemies. He held the dying, comforted them, and wept for them. His unit in the 409th Battalion under Patton also freed the prisoners from a Nazi prison camp at the end of the war. This is a simple snapshot of my favorite military hero. I’m proud to be the daughter of Ralph Stuart Kaney, an American hero.
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We are not alone
Some of us living with depression slip into believing the lies we are alone, no one cares, and the world would better if we died. Some of you heard this favorite lie, “It’s a sin to be depressed.” The truth is we are not alone, we are loved, and our lives have purpose. It is not a sin to have an illness. Remember George in the movie It’s A Wonderful Life? He believed the lies and the angel showed him how worse life would be for those he loved if he died. Our lives have purpose for good. We are unique works of art crafted by the greatest of all creators, God.
Depression leading cause of disability
I scanned several recent health documents on the subject of depression and I learned some amazing facts. According to the World Health Organization there is an estimated 350 million individuals with some form of depression and it is the leading cause of disability worldwide.1 Nope. Not alone. Recognize any of these names: Beyoncé, Terry Bradshaw, Drew Carey, Harrison Ford, Angelina Jolie, Lady Gaga, Dolly Parton, Brad Pitt, Mike Tyson, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon? Yep. They all live or lived with depression. They reached out for help. They lead successful lives with their unique talents and personalities.2
Depression is a treatable illness.
Find a doctor you trust. The majority of us living with depression will enter into remission with proper treatment. Medications help the body heal and cope. Diabetics depend on medication. Those with crippling arthritis live functional lives on medication. There is a medication or a combination of medications if necessary to bring balance to the chemicals in our brains to assist us to live our lives to our fullest potential. There are almost more medicines for treating depression than we can count.
Take the first step
There are counselors who will help you learn life skills to deal with the issues that cause you pain. Go to your doctor, your pastor, your most trusted friend, the county mental health department where you live or family member. If the first attempt at reaching out is brushed aside, go tell someone else. But take the first step. Seek help. You are more valuable than all the precious metals or jewels in the world. You are the only one of you there is and you are loved.
Last fall I heard on the news of a college sophomore who died after he jumped off a building because he had lost all hope. He felt his life too painful to live. He felt there was no one he could tell. I wept for him as if he had been my child. I wept for his parents who loved him. I wept for his friends who didn’t see his pain. I wept for me because maybe my story may have helped him. In my next column I will start at the beginning of my story of my living with depression.
1 WHO, October, 2015, Depression Fact Sheet
2 Wikipedia contributors, “List of people with major depressive disorder,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=List_of_people_with_major_depressive_disorder&oldid=708650078 (Revised March 6, 2016).